On the anniversary of the Russian military’s full-scale illegal invasion of Ukraine, we remember the fear and heartbreak felt by Ukrainian citizens who are now faced with the devastation of their home country. Millions have since fled Ukraine to other countries around the world, their exodus marking the largest refugee crisis since World War II.
Although the Biden Administration declared its commitment to welcoming 100,000 Ukrainians into the United States following the invasion, the federal government offered no formal assistance. The Slavic community, churches, and FIRM staff offered aid and support to the thousands of Ukrainian refugees who flew to the U.S.-Mexico border in the hopes of being granted humanitarian parole.
Dozens of Ukrainian families, mostly grandparents, women, and children now reside in Fresno. FIRM staff have worked tirelessly to meet the needs of the new arrivals over the last year, providing transportation, housing assistance, translation services, and more. Still, the largest obstacles for Ukrainians in Fresno continue to be language barriers, obtaining stable housing, and reliable transportation.
However, many of those currently living in Fresno who arrived between April 11th and the launch of Uniting for Ukraine on April 24th are in jeopardy of losing their status. They were paroled into the country for only one year, while those who came to the U.S. after April 24th, 2022 under Uniting for Ukraine were granted a two-year humanitarian parole. This 12-day gap leaves those who entered during that time period with no legal pathway forward for continued legal residence in America. Those who arrived before April 19th are able to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) which would continue to allow them to work and would protect them from deportation for an additional year. There is no current pathway for permanent status once these protections ends.
While President Biden announced sanctions on Russia and additional military aid for Ukraine on the anniversary of the illegal invasion, there is still no word on what will happen to the refugees in the United States once their status expires.
The federal government must extend the parole status of the Ukrainian refugees that arrived one year ago, unilaterally, and provide a clear path forward for the refugees who wish to continue their lives in the United States.
You can help by:
- Providing Gift Cards and working bicycles to FIRM
- Prayers for Ukraine and Ukrainians displaced across the worl;d
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